Why to take trends with a pinch of salt

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Trends - "a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving"

If you offer a product or service, your ultimate goal is to be relevant enough to your dream customer that they engage with, and invest in what you have to offer.

So you need to be aware of trends, and changes in consumer needs, habits and behaviours. But what if an emerging trend is NOT aligned with your business? What if, for example a particular trend is slow moving, sustainable living, Mother Nature inspired?

And your offering is fast, fun and bold?

Do you tweak your brand to stay relevant, or do you adapt the trend to fit your brand?

Lots of brand do it. They lock onto a style trend, because it has a great following, everyone is re-pinning the aesthetic, you see fashion or homewares in those colours, book design and online magazines reference the fonts and layout associated with it, and other brands they admire have started using it. It's cool, beautiful even. But what does it mean for THEIR brand. Is it relevant to THEIR product or service? What authentic story does it tell...and what is the impact of using an aesthetic not aligned to your brand values?

❌ Inconsistency - this will only confuse your customers

❌ Lack of trust ( what DO you stand for?)

❌ Attracting the WRONG customer - ones who will not end up buying your product or service because it jars with the visual messaging that initially drew them in

The thing is, trends by their very nature come & go, they morph into newer ideas. When it comes to brand identity, which needs to not only tell a unique story but also (hopefully) stand the test of time, if you directly reference a trend, you are in danger of your brand identity becoming common place, out of date, and even less relevant.

The more you try & fit into a trend, the more likely you are to blend in, as more & more people adopt these new ideas.

I always look at trends as part of my design process, my clients need to be relevant in their respective markets. BUT, you also have to be authentic and relevant to your brand values.

Here’s 3 things to consider:

💫 What is it about the trend that appeals to you - what visual message does it tell your customers? Is the message relevant to your brand or customer? If so, how could you adapt visual elements of the the trend (so colours, fonts, imagery, materials, styles, themes, meanings...) to work cohesively with your brand values? Make it your own, and make it unique to you.

💫 What is your brand’s take on the trend? If the trend is sustainable/Mother Nature inspired (I’m merely

going with this example for this blog but there are so many more!!) what is your brand’s approach to this. Even if you are a service brand, what ideas could you take from this trend to resonate with your eco-conscious customers. Are there sustainability issues you can address and stand for in your business?

💫 After researching your market trends, why not do the OPPOSITE?...For example, if everyone in your market is using muted, earthy tones, do you go bold (or vice versa)?! And REALLY stand out? Ultimately it’s about making your branding really unique. So using the previous example, can you be eco conscious & sustainable without using the obvious norms of colours and fonts?! It's a brave move, but something to consider...

Brands such as Huit Demin (rejecting fast, mass fashion), Lucy & Yak (Eco credentials without the eco colour palette), and The Inkey List (who created refreshingly simple branding, as straight forward as their product, rather then embellishing it with shiny, holographic claims as is so often the case with beauty brands) have all successfully rejected market norms, and reaped the rewards by standing out in their markets.

This is why knowing your brand values is so important, and starting from the inside, with your 'Why' as Simon Sinek would put it (see here for his amazing Ted Talk), rather than the 'What', or even worse, the aesthetic. If you know your reason for being, you know if a trend is right for your brand, and your customers.

A good brand designer will always talk to you about your 'why' and want to know your brand values, as well as your target customer. All of this information informs the design process to make sure that the end result not only attracts your ideal customers, communicates your brand, but also stands the test of time.

Branding can feel like a sizeable investment for your business, especially if you are in the early stages of developing a small business but good brand design, that helps your brand stand-out, getting your services & product in front of the right customers could be the best investment you ever make.

This is what I strive for in every project I take on. Find out more here.

image credit:Krzysztof Kowalik

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